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Warrior Families Tackle "Second Worst"

wounded warrior wheelchair

Marrying into the military means never knowing what to expect from the life you have chosen. This is especially true during a deployment that features combat.

“A lot of families prepare for the worst, but the don’t prepare for the second worst,” said LTC Suzanne Walker, USA-Ret, coordinator for the 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium.

Spouses may have seen enough movies to be able to vividly imagine the uniformed officers arriving at the door. They are capable of planning what they would do if their service member were killed.

But nothing prepares them for the gap that can open between husband and wife during deployment. Nothing prepares them to feel like they are parenting their own spouse. Nothing prepares them for being in a room with their own servicemember and feeling so alone. Nothing prepares them for the fact that the process of recovery can take so long.

“In a military family partnership, what happens to the servicemember happens to the spouse,” said Walker in a phone interview. “We are often the caregivers of our families. When it comes to the partnership of a military career, we don’t know what our responsibilities will be."

That is why the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) are hosting the 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium (WFS) this Thursday, Sept. 13. The event, designed to honor and aid wounded heroes and their families, will be held from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

It is eye-opening to know how many players have a role (in the warrior’s life),” said Walker. From filling out paperwork to figuring out what kind of apartment the family should get to caregiver respite to the stigma servicemembers face when looking for a post-military job, the warrior family faces its challenges.

By bringing together all the members of the military community who are currently dealing with the sacrifices of war -- spouses, parents, active duty members, medically retired servicemembers, medical providers, insurers, employers, legislators, educators -- the concerns of wounded warriors are kept in front of the minds of people who count.

Event registration, which is open online, is free to all active duty/reserve component servicemembers and their spouses. This year's WFS event will focus on the theme “Saluting Their Sacrifice: A Decade of Challenges and Triumphs for Our Wounded Heroes and Their Families.” Public-private organizations are expected to join the discussions, exploring opportunities and collaborative ways to enhance and refine programs and services to meet a lifetime of changing needs. Co-moderators are Derek Donovan, vice president, Fisher House Foundation, and retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson. 

For further information, contact Susan Stadler or Nancy Carr at 703-838-0546 or by email at pr@moaa.org.

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